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Top 10 Inspection Tips for Buying Used Cars

If you’re looking to buy a used car, you have two basic options. You can either buy privately from the current individual owner or buy through a car dealer.

Private sales are usually cheaper because a car dealer has to add in a profit margin as the ‘middleman’. Either way, it’s important to negotiate to get yourself the best deal!

It's also important to inspect a used car thoroughly before you buy one. Here’s our top 10 inspection tips for buying used cars.

Tip 1

Your inspection should start with some online research. This will give you an idea of the current market values and conditions of the type of car/s you’re looking for. Knowing this information upfront can save you time in the long run. You can do this via sites like Red Book.

Tip 2

Once you’ve done your research, you can start inspecting. If you don’t know much about cars, take someone with you who does. That could be a friend or family member, or you can pay to get a professional inspection done.

Tip 3

If you’re buying privately, you can add an optional warranty into your car loan. This helps to put you on an equal footing with a statutory warranty offered by a car dealer.

Tip 4

Turn the engine on and let the car idle for a few minutes. Make sure that:
• there aren’t any oil leaks,
• visible smoke doesn’t come out of the exhaust when you push the accelerator, and
• the radiator water is clear.

Tip 5

Go for a test drive and check that:
• the gears change smoothly,
• there is no strange engine noises and it has the right amount of power,
• the brakes are good,
• the car will run in a straight line without you needing to adjust the steering wheel,
• the car doesn’t overheat,
• all the dashboard dials work, including the speedo, and
• the lights, indicators, windows, air con, car audio and any other electronics all work.

Tip 6

Check the upholstery of the car and that all seat belts work.

Tip 7

Check the external condition of the car. Look for scratches, hail damage or any signs of previous accidents or rust on the body of the car.

Check under the engine bay for any signs of fluid or oil leaks.

Also check the condition of tyres, windows and windscreens.

Tip 8

Ask to see evidence of the vehicle’s service history.

Tip 9

If you’re buying privately, ask to see the car’s current:
• registration certificate, and
• roadworthy certificate.

Tip 10

If you’re buying privately, get the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number). This is a unique 17-digit code that is usually on the inside of the driver’s door. You can use the VIN to check if there is any money owing on the car via the Personal Property Securities Register.

How we can help

Whether you’re looking to buy a used or new car, talk to us to arrange your finance. We're car finance brokers and we can get you a great deal.

We can also arrange mechanical warranties for private sales. These warranties can reduce your exposure to any losses in the event you buy a car with problems.

Call 1300 301 051 during business hours to speak with one of our experienced finance brokers.


DISCLAIMER : The thoughts and opinions conveyed on this website are those of the authors only and are of a general nature. This does not constitute financial or general advice to you from Auto Loans Group. You should seek your own independent advice from a professional which is specific to your circumstances before considering any of the items referred to in this article, including finance, insurance, and car buying.